Tony Jefferson was a big get for Arizona and then Baltimore. In fact, had Jefferson not gotten hurt in 2019, he’d still be a Raven right now. The fact is that he was a big cap-figure on a team looking to make room, so he was a cap casualty. He tore his ACL after only five games into his 2019 campaign and as of Aug 22, was “2 to 4” weeks away from being able to do a workout for an NFL team. While that puts the Cleveland Browns right up against the start of the 2020 season, GM Andrew Berry said that he will look to improve the team at any point during the year.
That means in the middle or start of the NFL season. Jefferson, assuming he’s healthy, would push for a starting position right off the bat. He’s one of the better tacklers available and when he’s healthy averages around the 70 total tackle mark. He’s shown to have good abilities in passing coverage and has solid playmaking abilities (8.5 sacks, 8 forced fumble, and 4 interceptions) in his time as a starter.
Not Hall of Fame numbers but pretty impressive for a guy waiting for a shot. The biggest cause of concern for Jefferson isn’t his play, obviously, as he’s shown to be a very good player when healthy. It’s that last part, his health. That what teams will worry about. An ACL injury in 2020 isn’t what it was in 1990. It’s not the career-ender that it used to be.
It is, however, still an injury that can and does affect one’s speed and quickness. Will Jefferson be able to pass a physical is anyone’s guess, but people should be more worried about what he would be able to show a team when he does finally get a tryout.
What would he look like in the middle of a workout? That’s going to be the key. Is he cleared for a tryout but needs another two-four weeks to get ready for it? Is he saying he’ll be cleared to do a tryout in four weeks? Because those are two vastly different physical states. Which one is Jefferson at? If he needs another month to be ready to try out, then maybe sign him. If he needs another month to be cleared, however, then pass because you’re looking at even more weeks before he’s ready to play, let alone practice.
That’s the question that needs to be answered.